Framed as a means to prevent PETA and other animal rights groups from making distorted images of animal farms and operations, a Utah state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would make it a crime to photograph or videotape agricultural operations without permission from the owners.
If the bill, Utah House Bill 187, passes, it would make the first offense a misdemeanor and subsequent offenses a felony. Under the bill's definitions, "agricultural operations" include poultry, livestock, aquaculture, orchards, and crop operations.
The National Press Photographers' Association, however, has been campaigning against the bill stating that it is written so broadly that it would violate the First Amendment.
Similar bills were proposed in Iowa, Florida and Minnesota last year. Iowa passed an amended bill prohibiting photography inside an animal facility. The bills in the other two states did not pass.
The Utah Farm Bureau supports the bill. The bill passed in the House with a vote of 60-14 at the end of February and is set to appear before the senate this Spring.